#nanowrimo book editing time

Just wanted to give a status update on my book. My book!! (I cheer a little inside every time I say that.)

For those who haven’t been listening to me chat incessantly for the past month or so, I’ll recap: I wrote a book last month. Yep, a book. Yep, in a month. I participated in National Novel Writing Month, from Nov. 1-30. The rule was, begin writing at midnight Nov. 1, stop writing by midnight Nov. 30, and write at least 50,000 words in between.

In order to do this, I needed to write about 1,667 words per day. Some days, I wrote 0 words. Others, I wrote 5,000. Most of the time my word count was somewhere in the middle, and I ended keeping my progress right around the average of 1,667 daily all month. I kept planning to write ahead, which was more difficult than I thought it would be, but I didn’t get behind either.

I was, however, determined not to be cutting it so close that I was validating my manuscript at 11:55 p.m. on deadline day. Anyone who has worked with me knows that I not only make deadlines, I make deadlines with plenty of time to spare. Work hard, play hard.

So I hit 50,000 on Friday (2 days early.) I was elated! I had Jeff in my office with me as I wrote the last 200 words. I made him sit there in silence until I gave him the green light to start cheering, only after I saw my MS Word counter pass the 50,000 mark. 50,008 if we’re being specific (had to finish the sentence!) So I validated and “won” on November 28 (with 50,212 words according to the Nano word counter.)

Then I was able to take a more leisurely approach to NaNoWriMo over the past couple of days. The word count has been achieved, and book is written from beginning to end, but it is nowhere near complete.

I met Amy for coffee and book chat. Amy is writing a book too, not for Nano but at her own pace. We swapped manuscripts and made editing marks (it took us about 2 hours to read just 4 or 5 pages each. OK, so we did a lot of talking, too …) After that, I came home and edited the first chapter of my own book and filled in a few plot holes. I spent yesterday editing Chapter 2, and I updated my final word count yesterday evening: 51,435. So exciting!

So, what next? Well, the editing has barely begun. I spent 7 years as an editor at a newspaper, (as a copy editor and assistant news editor, which means editing for spelling and grammar and style, then as editor-in-chief of niche products, which means editing for the big stuff: Is it well-written? Is anyone going to get sued if we print this? And does it make sense?). I always thought I did a decent job of editing myself (as editor-in-chief of the small magazine, I was also one of its most frequent writers.) However, I am quickly learning a book is a whole new ballgame. Will the character detail I mentioned in page 7 contradict itself on page 148? Does the timeline flow properly? Do I go on and on and on about a topic no one cares about?

All that said, I will be spending the next few weeks pouring over the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb (which, in actuality, is an awesome orange pen I got from my buddy Eric at Integraphx). I will then order proofing copies for myself and 2 or 3 others, then pour over it again with fresh eyes. And only after I’m convinced it’s the next New York Times Bestseller (as my friend Heath so kindly called it on Facebook!) will I then have it published and available for you to read! I’ll keep you posted on the progress in the meantime; truth be told, I cannot WAIT for you to read it. Won’t feel like an accomplishment until that happens …

I haven’t won any grand award so I won’t spend too much time giving out gratitude, but I do have to say thank you, thank you, thank you for everyone who encouraged me through all this.

I could start with Amy, who has heard me talk about wanting to be a novelist since I was 10. In fact, at 12, she and I attempted our first book together. It was a masterpiece, lemme tell ya ;). Luckily for us, most of that book has been lost in the past 18 years … If you’re nice to us, maybe one day we’ll share with you what we have of it …

And of course Chris, who told me about NaNoWriMo and planned to do it with me. I never would have done it without him committing to give up his November with me. I’m just sorry he didn’t make it.

And Jeff, who let me push work to the back burner, chores to the back burner, our social lives to the back burner … and who was there every step of the way to listen to me dish about plot outlines, twists, development. He never cringed when I asked him to read something, even though I know Chick Lit isn’t his first choice …

And my peers, other writers who gave up November, putting the art above everything else. To name a few: Phil, Heather, Michael, Whitney, Katylin, but there are many others. Even though they didn’t all “win” – they all gave it everything they had and they WILL write novels, even if it’s not in a 30-day period. And Phil and Heather and I already have plans to fill our time with our next writing endeavor: poetry! Check out all of their blogs when you get a minute: especially Michael’s, because he called me super cute …

And of course all my other friends that have listened to me go on and on and on about nothing else this month: Kyle, who gave me the name of one of the main characters (Kylie, of course! That’s only after I shot down his first choice for a girl’s name, Melissa. Aw … He’s a charmer!) Carissa, who gave me the word rendezvous, Susan, who gave me an entire new character. Michael, who cheered me on, read excerpts any time I asked, and has so kindly agreed to edit the book (he actually considers it an honor!)

I’ve always thought if I only had one day to live and I couldn’t spend it with family and friends, I would spend it writing: Hopefully leave something behind. I’m just glad I’m going about leaving my breadcrumbs now …